Defending our Walking Dead Podcast, or, Why you don’t know how to listen

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The past few weeks have been rather tough on me. We’ve received a record number of complaints, and every one of them directed towards our Walking Dead podcast. Apparently I am not allowed to dislike an episode of The Walking Dead.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself disliking an episode of the AMC hit series titled “The Suicide King”. This was only the second of 31 instalments of the series that I’ve downright hated for multiple reasons (read my review here). The negative review on our podcast was met with a flood of angry emails, with some demanding that we stop recording a podcast dedicated to Robert Kirkman’s hit series.

I understand we offer a free podcast and I understand that we never send out invites to listeners to tune in. I understand that listeners access our podcast on their own free will and that nobody is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to listen along. So I clearly I understand that we must be horrible people to produce a podcast that features critical analysis of a television show. Perhaps the majority of the world’s population suffers from short term memory loss, that they feel we should instead spend the entirety of the podcast recapping scene by scene what took place. Would this be better than, I don’t know, say actually reviewing the series? Why would anyone spend an hour of their life, listening to three hosts reenact every scene, rather than simply re-watching the episode instead? Call me crazy, but if I wanted to relive the events of The Walking Dead, I’d rather re-watch the episode than sit around and listen to a bunch of strangers remind me of what happened. But according to the feedback, I’m the crazy one who wastes my time every week, recording a podcast with critical analysis.

I’ve been locked away in my home for the majority of this cold bitter winter, so can someone fill me in on what is going on in the world. Did the majority of the population drink stupid juice?

I understand that my co-host Simon isn’t the biggest fan of The Walking Dead, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. Isn’t it more interesting to listen to a fan argue with a non-fan about what makes the show work or not work? Isn’t critical analysis far more interesting than sitting around listening to a bunch of fanboys do nothing but sing high-praise for every decision The Walking Dead show-runners make? And aren’t these the same fanboys who spend hours every week on message boards bitching about the missing-Sophia-subplot or Andrea’s relationship with the Governor? Do I need to join some secret fanboy club to be awarded the right to voice an opinion?

I could understand if we were a bunch of dicks with nothing intelligent to say, much like some of the commenters who’ve left hateful comments about us across the net – but we are not. Each and every week, Kate, Simon and I, discuss what we feel works or doesn’t work on the show in a civilized manner. I hate to break the news to all the fanboys, but as much as I love The Walking Dead, it is far from perfect. Sorry folks, but the comic book is far better than the television show and that is disappointing. Do I like the TV series? Yes, of course I do, but as I mention each and every week, it can improve, and I know this, because I have a benchmark to compare it to. But this ignorance, generated by ungrateful, self-entitled fanboys needs to end. Hateful remarks are just not cool.

Nobody is forcing you to listen to our show and honestly, if you can’t handle critical discussion, you should avoid visiting the internet in general, because everyone has an opinion to share, and you are most likely going to stumble across someone who you will disagree with at one point in time.

But here’s what I really don’t understand: Every week I must drop the word “love” a minimum of seven times during our broadcast. “I LOVE this episode”, I say, or “I LOVE this character,” and so on. So why is it that people seem to think I am so negative? I admit I was a bit of a downer during the review of “The Suicide King,” but that was only one of 35 shows, and truth be told, these complaints keep pouring in, even when I am most positive.

So a few days ago, I decided to start inviting guests on a weekly basis to our podcast. I figured we could use a second opinion because maybe these hateful listeners were right about us, and maybe The Walking Dead series is far better than we give it credit. So who better to invite than a critic who writes reviews of The Walking Dead for an extremely popular publication. A funny thing followed after the broadcast. Within a night of publishing the podcast online, I received even more feedback, only this time complaining that this well respected professional critic who is actually paid to review the series every week, was far too negative and (to put it nicely), “ill-equipped to review the show.”

So I’d ask you all to consider this:

The world is now cluttered with various methods of communication (Twitter, chat rooms, Facebook, Tumblr, text messages, blogs), and other minute-by-minute distractions that have affected how well we listen. We now live in an environment in which we take in so much information by the minute, that we can only filter in so much of what we see and hear. Even worse, people, tend to avoid information that contradicts what they already think or believe and tend to surround themselves with like-minded people. Recent studies indicate that most people, particularly those with more close-minded personalities, are even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives. Instead they tend to gravitate to people who only share their opinions. Statistics also show that people who have little confidence in their own beliefs are less likely to expose themselves to contrary views than people who are very confident in their own ideas. In other words, I can make eleven comments on the podcast, ten positive and only one negative, but the majority of listeners will remain glued to the one critical remark I made, and forget the rest.

The good news is that one out of three people are open to various opinions and views, and so while the majority of The Walking Dead fans won’t enjoy our show, at least we can take solace in knowing that those far more open minded and confident will.

As for everyone else, we don’t charge or force you to listen to our show, much like AMC doesn’t force us to watch or review The Walking Dead. If you don’t like what we do, move on to the next podcast. We are open to criticism of our show, but we don’t tolerate hate. And we understand our audience is small, but that we are ok with that. Love it or hate it, this is the show we want to produce.

Ricky D

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  1. Alan says

    Thanks for your. Reply. I definitely think that is the reason why I and others have not seen eye to eye with your views. I’m kind of new to this podcast thing I thought if there was a podcast for a show I really did believe that it was supposed to be like a ” fan type thing” to listen to but really appreciate you letting me know your are critics first above all else. Every one has an opinion a lot of people love certain shows and can’t find anything wrong just because of how much they love it. But totally understand critics have a job to do. I def respect that. I just listen to your show a couple of times and thought it was supposed to be fans talking about the show that’s my fault and I’m from syracuse and the year were having I have had to listen to so called fans bash everything about them then turned into a podcast about one of my favorite shows are thought the fans were doing the same. I just got to the point were I started thinking doesn’t anyone appreciate things were supposed to love anymore. Anyway I’ve prolly took up way to much of your time and your prolly sick of reading my long ass email so take care and best of luck with your futures. Thanks for taking the time to listen and respond

    1. Kate Kulzick says

      Sure thing Alan- I know what that feels like, when you can’t seem to find someone else to share your enjoyment of a TV show or movie with. It can definitely be a pain. And we’re certainly not sick of you, lol. Thanks again, and best of luck elsewhere in the podosphere!

    2. Ricky says

      If you like Horror and other genre stuff, I’d recommend giving my Sordid Cinema podcast a try.

  2. Alan says

    And the other podcasts I listen to do talk about the negative but it seems like that’s what Simon focuses on. I can’t remember him ever saying anything positive about the show. Take it as a sports fan if your team is playing horrible lately you do talk about there faults but you also still talk about how much you love your team. When a fan of the show hears someone talk so much crap about it and he’s not even a fan it hurts. Some people just don’t know how to be mature and respectfully disagree and that’s what your getting. Everyone knows the world we live in and no one can change it yet people act surprise when they do something they should know is gonna bring attention to them. No it does not make it right for people talking crap about you but that’s how the world is. If your gonna be on a fan podcasts and say the things you just need to be prepared to deal with all the immature people out there and there’s a lot of them. Anyway as you can tell I disagree with mostly all of what you guys say but I also respect your opinion but this kind of podcast is just not for me. I do truly hope everything works out for you

    1. Kate Kulzick says

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Alan! The difference is, Simon and I don’t claim to be fans. As a TV critic, I am a “fan” of very few shows, even ones I almost always enjoy. Ricky is a fan, particularly of the source material, and that is probably why his perspective tends to be less objectionable to some. However, we never claim our podcast is a fan podcast or is fan-oriented in any way and I think that’s where the discrepancy lies. People assume that because we do a podcast, we must come from a starting point of loving the series as it currently stands, and when they don’t get that, when they get an analytical approach rather than a fan-driven one, they’re upset. Thank you for listening- I’m sorry we aren’t the podcast for you, but I very much appreciate your choosing this considered, respectful method of responding!

      1. Ricky says

        Just to add to my comment below. Kate is right and thank you Kate for pointing that out. My criticism comes from disappointment when the series ins’t as good as the book. That is a perspective many fans of the comic have. Many long time fans like myself, who read The Walking Dead long before it was a TV show are not happy with some of the decisions and how they are writing characters like Andrea, Michonne and Tyrese.

        1. Bill Mesce says

          A critic isn’t obligated to like anything. A critic — for the sake of being nice or balanced — isn’t obliged to find something good in everything. A critic isn’t bound to make everybody happy…or even ANYBODY happy, including people who may fervently like something the critic doesn’t really like.
          A critic exists to — ideally — gauge a creative work against their own (admittedly subjective) standards and render (what we all hope will be) an informed opinion.
          In other words, by definition, sooner or later, any critic worth his/her salt is gonna piss you off. That doesn’t make them wrong, doesn’t make you right; just means you disagree.
          Some years ago, I had a play up at a small theater in Jersey. The guy who did play reviews for the Jersey section of the NY Times came to see it. We were all feeling pretty cocky because three papers on our side of the river — including our state paper — had given the play glowing reviews.
          Well, the guy from the Times hated it. HATED it. Hated it so much that he went on for a good 10 column inches saying what he didn’t like. Only mentioned the director once, never mentioned the actors, saved all his space to say why he hated the play.
          Naturally, I was bummed by this, but my wife — bless her — put it in perspective: “Not everybody is always going to like what you do.”
          Simon doesn’t like the show. Ricky does, but didn’t like this particular episode (I just wrote a piece about a show I used to watched devotedly even though I couldn’t stand most episodes). I could care less either way because as good as the show seems to be, I’m a bit fed up with shows about vampires, werewolves, wizards, zombies, etc.
          That’s the idea of a site like this: not to be a fan site, but be a place to exchange views, challenge old ideas and present new ones, engage in respectful and intelligent debate. That’s the fun.

  3. Alan says

    Hey there. Don’t know what was said but I’ve tried listening to your guys podcast. I’m not gonna sit here and call you names or think your a moron, but when a true die hard fan goes to download a podcast he or she prolly wants to her different ways the story could go or interpitations not listen to you guys be so vocal about all the negatives of the show while calling the writers stupid or that there horrible. And I personally think you are a true fan your not that bad it’s the other two that seem like they don’t enjoy the show at all excpeially Simon. I just don’t get why it has to be so negative all the time and seems to focus on that rather than site the positives too. Like I said you do talk about the positives but the other two seem like even if its a good thing they seem like it gets to them to be positive about the show. I’ve listened to a bunch of other podcasts and they do talk about the negatives but are more willing to bring out the positives and I think that’s where you run into trouble when so many die hard fans listen to these podcasts. It’s a free country and very man is entitled to his opinion there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you claim to be a podcasts for the fans those fans are gonna take it personall for some reason. I will just stop listening there’s no need to call names and give death threats that’s just ridiculous. But anyway there’s nothing else to say. Good luck in the future and tell your friends maybe just ease up a little but again that’s the way they feel I just wish they wouldn’t call thereselves fans

    1. Ricky says

      Thanks Allan. There are two things to consider here.

      1- I never claimed it was a podcast for the fans. That is exactly what we are avoiding simply because there are already too many podcasts like that. I wanted to kick start the podcast long before the show aired but had trouble convincing someone to do it with me. I even wanted to call it The Talking Dead, but I guess two others shows also had the same idea. I finally convinced my friend Al to host with me about a week before the pilot aired. Sadly, Al couldn’t commit to season two, which is a shame since both he and I read the books and are huge horror fans. I asked Simon to guest host so we could have a differing opinion and not sound like three fan boys.

      2- The problem with going in and reviewing a TV show on a weekly basis, is that you commit to one series hoping for the best. When we started, none of us could guarantee we would 100 % enjoy the show. As appose to say our Sound On Sight movie podcast we can’t change the line up every week.

      Simon clearly isn’t interested in watching the show, much less talking about it. This became clear towards the end of the first half of season three, which is why we decided to eventually bring in guest hosts. Simon committed to the entire season, and truth be told, he is responsible for recording the podcast until I can arrange a way to record on my end. So we are in a tight spot with little alternatives. It is just the way the cards fell.

      Simon is actually not returning for season 4. Kate and I will be continuing on our own with a different guests coming in each week.

      My big problem is I didn’t like the episode called The Suicide King, and everyone turned against me. I’m sure every viewer has at least one episode they hate, so I felt it was very unfair of listeners to lash out on me like that. I put in one hour to write a review each week, another two hours to record and edit, and add on about 25 minutes to upload the show and spread it across the net. If I didn’t like the series, I wouldn’t do all that work. However I can’t sit there and force Simon and Kate to lie.

      I am far from negative. Most of my bitching from season three is about Andrea, much like everyone else who watches the show.

      Regarding Kate: Most of our listeners, and we have many, love Kate. So many of them have written in praising her criticisms and even defending her.

      I know this show isn’t for everyone, but we have an audience. Last time I checked, we had just under 7000 downloads for one episode. So clearly there are people out there who want to hear what we have to say.

  4. Ruben says

    I love the show, I listen to it every week from Spain, you’re amazing guys.

  5. The Movie Waffler says

    As the editor of a film site I’m all too familiar with this fanboy phenomenon. I’ve received racist abuse and been ordered to commit suicide, all because my opinion differs once in a while from the general consensus. It annoys me that I get so many comments on my negative reviews but rarely when I rave about a movie.

    1. Ricky says

      I’ve always said, that people are more willing to leave a comment when they disagree than when they agree.

      I guess my article above is dancing around the fact that the majority of people are ignorant … and not very educated … which is scary.

      1. Bill Mesce says

        Well, I don’t think they’re ignorant, or going with what Joshua said, that they’re morons. They’re are some very smart people in places of power who are shockingly narrow-minded, close-minded, and/or who don’t know how to deal with a range of opinion.
        The Internet somehow has changed the rules of debate (no matter the topic), making it more shrill and often ugly (as Movie Waffler’s post shows). It’s win or lose, right or wrong, but not a debate in the classical sense of the word, and that’s a shame.
        I come into this site every day no matter how busy my day is, if, for no other reason, than to scan the headlines for topics of interest. I’m not spoiling for a fight; I’m looking for what other people have to say. I’m looking to learn something. I may, in the end, disagree with someone’s view (and I like to think that whenever I have I’ve expressed that with respect and simply as that: a disagreement, rather than a “You’re wrong!” attitude). Ricky, keep on keepin’ on, it’s all you can do, and just hope it attracts the right mindset. I believe, more often than not, it does; you just don’t hear from those people.

        1. joshua scott says

          Great post, Bill. My statement regarding morons was taken out of context, though. I am simply referring to those who consistently state hateful speeches about a show, that has as it’s stated mission to be critical, those unfortunately are morons. Do I think everyone who says anything negative about a podcast is a moron, not at all – maybe I should have been more thoughtful in explaining that. For that, I am a moron. I love your breakdown on the internets impact on critical reasoning. I find that your point is spot on. My statement about those sitting in their moms’ basement, cynically protesting, for the chance to be “heard round the world” might have been a rant best kept for a late night drinking with friends, not here. I apologize for that over-simplified view. That said, there are a lot of morons unfortunately that fit Ricky’s and my views. Using the internet as a way to get their pent-up rage out. We’re not talking about a socially polemic issue like gun-control or late-term abortions; this is a T.V. show about zombies. For hatred to be spewed like venom from the side of their necks isn’t just unfounded, it’s down right ridiculous. This show, The Walking Dead, is my guilty pleasure (never liked any zombie stuff in the past) and I love that this podcast offers a higher analysis regarding the social correlations and human reactions towards circumstances beyond peoples’ control. The one thing I enjoy about this show seems to be the common thread between most of the negative statements made towards this show. I think those whom can’t get past that something you love to watch can have flaws and those flaws should be freely discussed should spend that precious hour of life listening to one of the ba-Jillion shows that happily recap everything you just saw . What’s next, a show about recapping a show that recaps a show (Talking Dead, too)?

          1. Bill Mesce says

            “Recapping the Recaps” — I think I’m gonna pitch that!

  6. joshua scott says

    Great statement, Ricky. Your show is the only walking dead podcast I enjoy. And THANK YOU!!! Who the hell wants a play-by-play of a show you could easily re-watch; send them to afterbuzz (they’re always looking for automatons to agree that the Walking Dead is infallible). I was disturbed that recent studies prove closed-minded people prefer not to group themselves with differing opinions or that shy folk don’t share their views; do we actually pay “experts” to tell us what we’ve always known? God I’m in the wrong line of work. Would you fund me to do a study on people who live in their parents’ basements and how they tend to be cynical even in light of obvious evidence to the contrary? I’m certain my hypothesis will pan out. All I need is my official lab-coat and “expert”status and I’ll put an end to your hate-mongering simpletons. Don’t let this crap get to you, Ricky, you’ve hit several nails directly on their heads and if people don’t think your show is worthy, why are they wasting their time listening? To me it shows: A) people are drinking way too much stupid juice, B) our “information age” has negative backlashes (i.e. dumb people enjoy knowing that the smarter folk have to hear them, too) and, C) people are so wrapped up in having every angle they forget their minds need a reboot and lack realization regarding the fact that each and every life is valuable. each second, important, SO TURN IT OFF IF YOU FIND IT DISTASTEFUL, MORONS!

    1. Ricky says

      LOL – Thanks Joshua. I’d love to also be paid to conduct experiments in which I already know the results. I’ve listened to five Walking Dead podcast. There is only one that I like. I don’t have anything against either of them, but I just feel it isn’t my cup of tea. Or more importantly, the hosts don’t have much to add to the conversation which is why they recap the entire episode -other wise they’d have nothing to say. I just don’t need to be reminded as to what I already watched on TV.

  7. Bill Mesce says

    Ricky —
    Very dispiriting to read this, not because of your comments but because of what it signifies.
    This is where I kick back, set my feet up on my desk, rub tired eyes, and say, “Ya know, kid, that reminds me of a story…”
    There was an L.A. film critic who hated TITANIC. Don’t hold me to this, but I believe it was Charles Champlin at the L.A. TIMES. Didn’t like it at all. In response, James Cameron took out a full-page ad in the L.A. TIMES explaining how Champlin was “wrong.” He pointed to the huge popularity of the film around the world, the Oscar haul, etc. Champlin HAD to be wrong.
    We’re talking about creative works here: there is no “right” or “wrong.” There may be a consensus (and, over times, even those change), but, at the end of the day, it is, was, and always will be a subjective judgment.
    That’s a longwinded way of saying, Everybody’s entitled to an opinion.
    Sound On Sight, to me, was never about us all holding hands in our mutual love for specific shows or films: it is about our mutual love for film and TV, and our mutual love for analyzing, discussing, and even arguing about specific shows and films.
    Ideas and concepts should be challenged, they need to be challenged, because it is in that challenge that we re-examine and test what we think. That’s how we learn, that’s how we grow not just as film and TV fans, but as people.
    Frankly, I’ve enjoyed the respectful (and I emphasize that: RESPECTFUL — that’s a tip of the hat to Staindslaved, my loyal opposition)diagreement that’s come up on my posts. But a hate-fest, a bunch of pissy comments, treating disagreement not as an opportunity to engage in provocative discussion but to grab pitchforks and torches and scream, “BURN THE BLASPHEMER”…not so much.
    There’s enough of that going on on the front page of the newspaper every day. It would be nice if we didn’t bring it in here. Disagree. Disagree passionately. Disagree forcefully. But always remember: you’re not “right”; you just like something more than the other guy/gal.
    Fair enough?

    1. Ricky says

      Thanks Bill, although I hope you are not comparing me to James Cameron. I didn’t buy out ad space in a publication but instead write an article in my personal column here on the site.

      The problem is people just do not know how to listen anymore … period… and it is a very scary thing.

      1. Bill Mesce says

        I was thinking of “them” as Cameron, but you’re right.

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